Monday, March 1, 2010

Phantom Edition: February 29

I know there is no February 29 this year, but this represents a good opportunity to post some of the backlog of items that have been waiting to see the light.

A very odd YouTube video with a google-eyed Russian singer has been making the rounds. What I like about this post by Justin Erik Halldor Smith is that he contextualizes the video and reveals the hidden tradition it comes out of. The singer in the video, Edward Anatolevich Hill, is a mite unsettling even when you have the fuller picture of what he's doing; however, Smith has usefully included a comparison video from Azerbaijani singer Muslim Magomaev, who, far from unsettling, is a total babe -- Rat Pack hot:

The Yale University Art Gallery is hosting a traveling exhibition on the great Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who designed three major buildings on the Yale campus -- Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges (two of Yale's twelve residential colleges) and Ingalls Rink, the university's hockey facility. I was an undergraduate in Morse College and lived in the college's tower (left rear of the linked photo) for two of my four years:

Morse and Stiles are (in)famous for containing virtually no true right angles in any of their rooms or spaces. This could make furniture placement a challenge; but no matter, I considered it a real privilege to live in an architectural masterpiece.

Also on at Yale, at the Yale Center for British Art, is a fascinating-sounding exhibition titled "Compass & Rule: Architecture as Mathematical Practice in England, 1500-1750":

Kevin D. Haggerty is skeptical about the merits of the "teaching statements" or "teaching philosophies" that are now a ubiquitous requirement of academic job applications, and I couldn't agree more:

I am an enormous enthusiast for plain-spoken photographs of American towns, so I naturally gravitate to the Ohio photographs of Andrew Borowiec:

The pulp writers David Goodis and Cornell Woolrich led two of the saddest lives of any writers I know of, which certainly helps give their fiction an unforgettable tang. Goodis is the subject of a new documentary that I want to see:

The major Irish novelist John Banville is now leading a double life (definitely a theme of Goodis's!) as a "conventional" literary novelist and a crime writer under the pseudonym "Benjamin Black." Here is a nice interview with him at The Millions:

The American Conservatory Theater, where I spent many happy hours when I lived in San Francisco, is reviving Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle in an impressive-sounding production:

Two ACT productions of the late Eighties that I remember with particular pleasure are Eugene O'Neill's Marco Millions on the main stage, and Maxim Gorky's Enemies in a magical workshop production where the actors literally outnumbered the audience.

How would you like to cook in the "Kitchen of the Future"? -- Oh, wait a second, we're in that future:

Among notables born on February 29 are science fiction novelist Tim Powers, composer Gioacchino Rossini, bandleader Jimmy Dorsey, poet Howard Nemerov, singer Dinah Shore, film director William Wellman, painter Balthus, and actors Michele Morgan and Dennis Farina. One of my favorite Christmas presents as a young adolescent was the premiere complete recording (5 LPs!) of Rossini's stupendous opera Guillaume Tell (William Tell), sung in the proper French, conducted by Lamberto Gardelli and featuring a great cast -- Gabriel Bacquier, Montserrat Caballe, Nicolai Gedda, Mady Mesple. Thanks, Mom!

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